It may feel like Internet live streaming is brand new, but it actually dates back more than half a decade. YouTube began testing live streams with events such as Barack Obama’s state of the union address as early as 2010, and YouTube partners began receiving access to the service in 2011.
This shows that YouTube is one of the most influential companies in the live streaming space. When they introduce a new feature, such as Superchat, you’d better pay attention.
What Is a Superchat?
YouTube’s newest live stream innovation is the Superchat. The best way to explain what Superchats are is to briefly look at the normal livestream interface. As the above picture shows, this layout has the video stream at the top of the screen with a chat feed to the side. Anybody who is watching the stream can chime in with their own comments and designated moderators can remove problematic messages.
The Superchat feature allows viewers to pay money to pin a vibrant color-coded message to the front of the chat. Even as the chat continues and most messages scroll out of sight, the pinned Superchat stays visible and at the front of attention.
The amount of time that the Superchat stays pinned depends on how much money the viewer spends. This ratio varies depending on the currency used, but for USD, the minimum is a $5 purchase for a one minute message. The maximum is a $500 purchase for a five hour message. This money is split between YouTube and the channel owner in the same way that ad revenue is.
In the event that the live stream ends before the Superchat runs out of time, it simply disappears with no refund. This means that large purchases for hours of Superchat time are, to some extent, donations. This makes sense if you look at the website Twitch, owned by YouTube, where most of the successful streamers monetize their work via donations with messages attached.
How to Use Superchats
Superchats can be viewed on any computer or mobile device that is able to see the chat underneath the livestream. The messages simply pop up at the bottom of the chat, color-coded and locked in place.
Unfortunately, not all devices can purchase Superchats yet. Any iOS device, such as iPhones and iPads, will be unable to buy the Superchats. All desktop computers, laptops, and Android-powered mobile devices can buy them. Mobile users can only buy Superchats when they are in portrait mode, since the landscape view hides the chat. All a person has to do is turn their phone from landscape to portrait mode to bring up the Superchat options.
Superchats are a great new way to make money while engaging deeply with your core fans. As of January 31st, 2017, they are now available for YouTube channels in 20 different countries, so what are you waiting for?